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>Israel Faxx
>JN May 19, 1997, Vol. 5, Number 90

Jobs in Israel

The Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel has opened an Internet database for jobs in Israel at The site promises up-to-date information on Israel's job market. The Hebrew and English site includes an on-line Hebrew/English dictionary of employment-related terms, as well as links to Israeli professional associations, new-immigrant associations, and selected government sites.

Palestinians Insist on Settlement Freeze

By Victor Beattie (VOA-Washington)

The Palestinian Cabinet has warned the United States that the Middle East peace process is doomed unless Washington forces Israel to freeze the building of Jewish settlements. The statement follows the departure of US special envoy Dennis Ross who failed to end a two-month suspension of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

The Palestinian statement says relative calm in the region cannot survive unless the peace process stalemate is broken. It says the United States must be more aggressive in halting new Jewish housing construction in east Jerusalem and settlement activity in the West Bank.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns says the Israelis and Palestinians must take ownership of the peace negotiations: "They're the ones who have to make the compromises necessary to have forward movement politically. It is not appropriate to criticize the United States in this process."

Middle East analyst Robert Lieber of Georgetown University acknowledges the peace process is in trouble, but says there is little the United States can do: "The US cannot want peace more than the two parties to it. The effort by the Palestinians to in effect draw the US in by putting pressure on the Israelis is not the answer to the problem."

Lieber characterizes the Palestinian statement as a bargaining ploy. He says there is blame on both sides of the negotiating table for the current impasse in the peace talks.

The End of 26 Centuries of Mesopotamian Jewish History

By Deborah Cooper (VOA-Washington)

Rival Kurdish factions continue fighting in northern Iraq in the so-called safe areas protected by US, British and French warplanes since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. Encouraged by Saddam Hussein's defeat in that conflict, the Kurds rose up against the Iraqi regime only to be brutally defeated in their effort to achieve their long sought goal of political autonomy in northern Iraq.

Little attention was paid to the Kurds until the Gulf War had ended. Yet, they are the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East with as many as 30 million Kurds living in a mountainous region which stretches across Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

Vera Saeed Pour is the director of the Kurdish Library and Museum in New York City. She is a diminutive 66-year-old gray haired lady dressed in a pinafore and ruffled apron, making her more reminiscent of a late 19th century grandmother than of one of this country's most renown experts on the people of Kurdistan.

"The Kurds who are 30 million have the misfortune to be governed by other peoples, by their neighbors, by conquest, by conquest, and also by treaty that was made by others, not by Kurds."

The Kurds are an ancient Indo-European people who have inhabited the Middle East since biblical times. Along with their Arab and Persian neighbors, they too nearly unanimously embraced Islam in the 7th century. But in her research, Saeed Pour learned that about 25,000 Kurds remained Jewish.

"The Kurdish Jews have left no historical records of their own. None of them knew anything about the ancient history of their people. It would be very hard even for the most scrupulous ethnologist to record what actually was the case."

Jews in Kurdistan celebrated the traditional Jewish holidays but embellished them with other traditions related to Kurdish culture. One thing is for certain, however. It was a male-dominated society. For example, divorce was easy for men but hard for women, and fathers often took their children away from the mother. And there was no honor in bearing a female child.

"A father to whom a daughter has been born is subjected often to children who run after him and yell, 'Daughter, daughter, dirt on your father's beard.'"

In the political turmoil following the establishment of Israel in 1948, hundreds of Jews, including Kurdish Jews, were arrested in Iraq. "Eventually, Iraqi authorities permitted them to emigrate to the new state of Israel. And by 1951, almost the entire Iraqi Jewish community -- some 125,000 Iraqi Jews and Jewish Kurds -- had left for Israel, ending 26 centuries of Jewish history in Mesopotamia."

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